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Adios, Costa Rica

Back to Seattle, I go. I was sad, but not overly sad. What I was most sad about was leaving S behind.

It was barely 5AM when S kissed me goodbye. He, and the majority of the group, were leaving for the next destination, and on the way, they were going white water rafting. Everyone was VERY excited about this. I was mildly sad I wasn’t going. I had only been once many, many, many years ago, and it didn’t go very well. It was cold, and rough, and our raft flipped and we lost our guide. It was all traumatic, and since then I have had no desire to go again. But, I think it’s time to go and get over this fear. Not in Costa Rica, this time, however.

So, I sadly said goodbye to S, and fell back asleep for a couple of hours. I was getting a ride to the airport with a couple in our group who was also heading home. A van drove us the couple of hours to the airport in San Jose. I was tired and desperately wanted to sleep, but I didn’t want to miss my last views of Costa Rica. So, I snoozed a bit, and stared out the window a bit.

I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare and did some souvenir shopping and ate. I already missed S a lot, and wasn’t sure when I would talk to him again.

I slept most of my flight to Houston, and breezed through customs once I got there thanks to GOES. I recommend becoming a global entry trusted traveler to ANYONE who travels internationally. No custom lines at all. I had a short layover, and then watched a great movie from Houston to Seattle: Life in a Day.

I was back in cold Seattle. I was indifferent about being home, really. I had a great time in Costa Rica, visiting a part of the world I had always wanted to see. I met some amazing people, witnessed an incredible wedding, took part in some wild adventures, laughed, cried, got to know myself better, got to know S better, ate some great food, and made some priceless memories. I was more sad about being away from the group and from S than from actually not being in Costa Rica anymore. It was the people I was with who made the trip so memorable, and I look forward to the next time we all get together. A part of me was actually happy to be home. I was excited to see my friends, to run the race Sunday, to see my family, to go to yoga, to see Baby H, to sleep, and to get back to my hectic routine. This trip was a trip of a lifetime, and I am so grateful I was able to be a part of it. πŸ™‚

My favorites from the trip:

Hotel: Margarita’s

Day: Beach Day with S in Mal Pais

Dinner: (this was TOUGH to choose we had so much amazing food) Brisas del Mar

Activity: Canyoning

Town: Mal Pais

Bar: Da Mon Key

Relaxing activity: Hot springs

Run: 8 mile mud run in Mal Pais

Breakfast: The Common Cup in Monteverde

Group Activity: Hot springs

Moment: The wedding ceremony

Funniest: The guys in our group performing Thunder from Down Under in the hot springs. πŸ™‚

Scariest: Monkey grabbing bracelets off my wrist

Lunch: Da Mon Key

Wildest: Both nights at Da Mon Key

Coffee: The Common Cup

Dessert: Brisas del Mar

Drink: Smoothies in Mal Pais

Saddest (?) but also pretty funny: Finance falling in the ditch

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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Food/Restaurants, Happiness, Travel

 

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My last full day in Costa Rica

Thanksgiving in Costa Rica. My last day in Costa Rica. My ninth day in Costa Rica. One of the funnest days in Costa Rica. πŸ™‚

We slept in a bit, and I decided to skip my 8 mile run. It really wasn’t a tough decision, and I knew I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. It was my last day and I wanted to fully enjoy it without the stress of figuring out when to run, where to run, and feeling too exhausted to do all the other fun stuff we had planned. So, I said, “I have trained my butt off, I would actually benefit from NOT running today”. I think I needed the rest more than I needed to get that last 8 miler in. I was in shape. I was trained. I was as ready as I was going to be. My body needed this rest. My mind did, too.

After breakfast at the hotel, we got ready to go canyoning! I was SO excited for this! Canyoning is…rappelling down through waterfalls. Some of them 150 feet!!! I climb (and have rappelled) and I love the water! So, I was very excited. It was cold (lower 70’s) and cloudy and the water was cold, but I didn’t care! The whole experience was AMAZING! This was my favorite adventure activity we did, and I highly recommend the adventure company we went with. Desafio Adventure Company.

The tour guides were knowledgeable, and funny! It was such a fun day. I had a smile on my face the entire time. Even after I had to jump, and fully submerge myself, into the not-warm-at-all water. They fed us lunch after, and they drove us directly to…THE SPRINGS! We went BACK to The Springs to soak in the hot springs. We got to see the beautiful resort in day light, and…it was gorgeous. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and we were only able to see the base of the Arenal volcano, which on a clear day is right in front of the hotel!

We all donned glow sticks and had an awesome time in the springs. We even dressed in togas (towels) and got a tour of the wildlife preserve, where we saw (wild) cats and monkeys. Some of the monkeys were not very nice and others were so sweet and shook our hands. I wanted a monkey hand shake, too! So, I stuck my hand out and the monkey went straight for my (glow stick) bracelets! He grabbed them, and it became a tug of war between us. S was telling me to give up (he didn’t want the monkey to bite me), but I didn’t want the little guy to get to the glow in the stick! I didn’t want him to get sick. I won the fight without a handshake from the little guy. 😦 It was very exciting!

We went back to the springs and played and sang and threw our glow sticks in the sky and had so much fun! None of us wanted to leave, but we all needed to eat. So, we went back to the hotel and changed for Thanksgiving dinner at Don Rufino.

We celebrated: Thanksgiving, a birthday, our last night in La Fortuna, my last night in Costa Rica, and an AMAZING day.

Back to the hotel and to bed. Everyone was getting up early in the morning to go our separate ways.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Food/Restaurants, Outdoor fun, Travel

 

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CR, day cuatro

Ouch. Getting up this morning after the fun festivities the night before hurt a bit. Getting out of bed was a bit painful, BUT we were on vacation so it really wasn’t TOO horrible. πŸ™‚ Eating breakfast made me feel a bit better, but what REALLY made me feel better was the 3 mile run I headed out for after breakfast. It was hot, and it was humid, and I sweat every bit of toxic from the previous night out of my pores. The run was great. It was cool to run down and see a part of Costa Rica I hadn’t been able to see yet. After my shower, I felt like a new woman! Seriously, I felt like 10 million colones. πŸ™‚

We headed down to the beach, where half of the group was. The other half was out on the five ATV’s we rented. When we walked down to the beach to meet up with everyone, I felt like I was in SoCal. They had set up a volleyball net, and were deep into a game of Vball. Some of us relaxed on the beach, some of us played volleyball, and some of us went surfing/boogy boarding. It was a fun day at the beach. When the group with ATV’s came back, those of us who wanted a turn ventured out on our adventure.

S and I hopped on our ATV, which immediately gave us some trouble: idling VERY high. We finally got going and caught up to our group. We were on a hunt to go see monkeys!! As we turned the corner, we found our group…er, part of it. One ATV had miscalculated a turn and ended up on its side in a ditch (a lot of ditch falling on this trip so far). Both driver and passenger were okay, but passenger (female) was not going to let driver (male) drive anymore, and she took control. πŸ™‚

And, we’re all off…in a long line, down the road, through mud, over puddles, up STEEP hills, through small rivers. WHEEEEE! It was my first time on an ATV, and I was having fun! We drove some more and came to another river, and well…our ATV didn’t like it very much. We got to the other side, and the engine was steaming…a LOT. And then, it died, and didn’t want to restart. Everyone else had taken off, and we were stuck. We let the ATV rest for a bit, and then tried to restart…success! And we were off again, alone, but still having fun! And then, we came to another river, and the ATV died IN the river. We had to get off and push it across. Our ATV was sick, sick, sick. We then decided to turn around. We pushed it across the river, let it rest, peed in the bushes (I did), found a banana tree, picked a banana and peeled it (NOT ripe), let the ATV rest some more, looked around and talked about how cool it was we were IN THE JUNGLE, and waited. Not once was I mad, sad, or upset our ATV was broken. I thoroughly enjoyed the company, and we were on vacation! I felt great. Our group then met up with us, and by that time, our ATV started back up and we ventured back to the beach. I even drove at one point! It was awesome! What wasn’t so awesome was looking up and seeing a monkey…dead on the power line. It had fried. 😦

For our welcome dinner, we went to Brisas del Mar. http://www.buenosairesmalpais.com/restaurant.html

I don’t think most of us were anticipating the loveliness we encountered. The restaurant was situated HIGH above everything with a panoramic view of the sea and beyond. It was absolutely breathtaking. We drank passion fruit bellinis, and ate some incredibly delicious food. For appetizers, we were served chips with homemade hummus, baba ganoush, and a cabbage slaw. For our main course, I had ginger seared tuna (YUMMMMMMM) and S had seabass with almond butter. They both were fantastic! And for dessert, warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream. Oh, boy. Good thing I was running 8 miles in the morning. The whole experience was truly amazing, and it was a fun evening.

We all made it an early night since TOMORROW was wedding day!! And, I had an 8 mile run before the van picked us up at 8AM. Hello, 5:45Am wake up call. πŸ™‚

 

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CR Adventure, Day 3

We slept in, had a leisurely breakfast, and then headed down to the beach for a S and J day. πŸ™‚ The beach was still covered in debris and the ocean was still a shade of brown, but it looked better than it did the previous day, AND the sun was shining!!

We walked down the beach soaking in the warm sun, and enjoying the sand beneath our feet. We explored, climbed rocks, took pictures (all the pictures taken today were taking on S’s Go Pro cam), enjoyed each others company, and eventually went swimming! The surf was a bit rough, but the water felt amazing! We meandered down the beach a bit further until we spotted some hammocks on the beach and some people relaxing in chairs. We were curious, so we walked up to check it out. It was a yoga resort! We walked through the grounds, past a pool, until we came to their center bar and ordered…mimosas. πŸ™‚ Ordering a mimosa was not a simple task with the language barrier. What we got was an entire bottle of champagne and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, squeezed right before our eyes. Absolutely delicious. (Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the name of the resort. 😦 ) A bottle of champagne later, we were ready to get back on the beach and in the sun.

We walked along the beach some more stopping so I could (attempt to) walk on my hands. We then walked off the beach and up to the road, seeing a part of town we hadn’t seen yet. We walked by a cool place that served smoothies and sat at a low table. I ordered banana/berry and S ordered papaya. Mine was yummier, we both agreed. It was delicious! As we were sipping our smoothies, I noticed a child, probably not more than 2 years old, naked in the side yard of the cafe. Seeing her naked didn’t faze me one bit until I noticed her squat down, and poop. She then stood up, walked a little further, and pooped some more. She did this for several more minutes as S and I stared, jaws wide open. Her mother was standing a good distance from her, holding her daughter’s underwear, smoking, and deep in conversation with someone. When her daughter was finished doing her thing, she walked over to her mom, and her mom proceeded to wipe her…in the cafe. It was quite a sight! Only in Costa Rica, I guess. You just let your kids out in the yard to go poop.

We walked back to the hotel, lounged by the pool, had some nachos, and went into town to grab lunch. We ventured into Da Mon Key, and had the most amazing food! I had a salad filled with delicious fresh veggies and S had tacos. The bartender was from So Cal. Highly recommend the food here: https://www.facebook.com/damonkeycr

We had dinner at Pasta Basta: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pasta-Basta-Real-Food/100836066669212?sk=wall. The place itself was very hip, and the food was absolutely AMAZING!! I ordered the Amberjack, a fish local to Costa Rica, and it was SOOOOOOOO good! It reminds me of swordfish…thick and steak-like. I basically licked my plate clean. I did manage to share a bit with our dinner guest, Reef. Dogs are not kept on leashes, nor in yards (neither are children, apparently) in Costa Rica. All dogs are just wandering the streets…and the restaurants. Reef was so sweet, that we just had to share our meal with her. πŸ™‚ Dessert was scrumptious as well.

After dinner, we headed out, in the rain, and back to Da Mon Key, which we quickly took over. It was dead in there, but we quickly livened the place up! They had no music, but we changed that. We bet someone in our group he couldn’t make it back the hotel, grab the boom box, and bring it back in less than 5 minutes. It was pouring, too! Well, he made it, way under time, actually, and the party was started. There was dancing on the bar, there were some champagne showers, some beer showers…there was a lot of fun being had.

Our night ended after 1AM.

*This was one of my favorite days…it’s actually tied with another day*

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Not Costa Rica related, BUT I went back to the Seattle Marathon website today to look at the pictures that are now up (I look in pain in every single one), and my chip time…the time I actually ran the race in, is…1:39.59! SO, I actually broke BOTH goals: place in top 10, AND break 1:40.00! I am one happy little runner who is looking ahead to (hopefully) win the Jingle Bell Run next weekend…

What were your 2011 goals, and did you meet/break them?

 
 

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Costa Rica Adventure, Day 2

5AM wake up call begins the longest day EVER. S was already up snapping pictures of the beautiful grounds. Margarita was already up and offered us coffee. She also packed us each a breakfast. She is awesome. I highly recommend her place.

We all piled in the van to make the short drive to the small airport, SantaAir, to catch our flight to Tambor. Our small, single prop plane seated 9 (I think?), and was a little freaky at first (the plane bumped around a bit), but then I relaxed and took in the amazing scenery. It was BEAUTIFUL! The flight was about 30 minutes, and when we started our descent, we noticed the runway in front of us. It started right at the beach, so it felt like we were landing on the beach! It was awesome. πŸ™‚ We were greeted by hot, humid air when we departed, and then we piled in our van for our next adventure. We thought we were making the drive to our hotel in Mal Pais. We had no idea of the small hiccup we would encounter….

For the past few days, it had been raining extremely hard in Costa Rica. Torrential downpour rain. The most rain Costa Rica has seen in 20…100 years (we heard both accounts). Well, luckily it was dry for us (now), but we were reaping the aftermath. The rain had washed out a lot of the roads, including the road that took us to our hotel. Less than a mile from our hotel, we were stuck and couldn’t go any further. We came up with all sorts of ideas, each one getting shot down. Hours later (but it still was before noon), when none of us wanted to sit at the gas station any longer, a couple of the boys went to check out the damage. When they came back, they came up with a plan: we walk. I was so down for this adventure! I had purchased water shoes for this purpose! And, we had packs, so trudging through mud/water would be much easier. We donned our water shoes and packs and set out, S and I leading the pack. It was fun!

We came to the scene of the crime (er, damage), and it was a mess. We waited for quite a while two bulldozers cleared the road, one working from each side. They finally cleared a path for us to walk through, and there, just on the other side was our hotel! We checked in, and then came the next adventure…where to run!

I had an 8 mile run, and the roads were underneath mud/water! What was I going to do?? I was exhausted from traveling, and just wanted to run. Someone suggested running on the beach. Not ideal, but I would take what I could, so down to the beach I trekked. What I found was not what I was expecting. The once beautiful beach was covered in debris washed up from the storm. The, what I am sure is usually beautiful blue/green, water was brown from the mud washed off the roads. It was sad. But, I looked past it and started running, imagining I would run 4 miles down the beach, turn around and run back. I was met, however, with obstacle after obstacle. The water coming off the roads had washed out the beach and there were giant rivers going along the beach. Barefoot, I could have run through these without too much difficulty, but I had my brand new running shoes on. After tiptoeing over river after river, I came to a river I just couldn’t pass. It was far too deep and moving pretty fast. I had barely run 1/2 mile. I was becoming discouraged. Yet, I turned around, and ran the other way, until, I met another river I couldn’t pass. I was sad and frustrated, but I didn’t give up. I don’t know how to do that. I quickly problem solved. I would find the longest stretch of beach I could run, and just run it back and forth and back and forth. The stretch was barely 1/4 mile, and it wasn’t fun, but as I did it I kept repeating, “This is making you stronger. This is making you stronger.” 3 miles into it, and having felt like I had already run 10 miles, I decided I didn’t need to do this for 8 miles. 5 would be enough. So, I ran that 1/4 mile stretch back and forth for 5 miles, hopping and skipping over all the debris. I jumped over (and sometimes into) the smaller rivers, which were growing rapidly. I had given up on trying to keep my shoes dry. They’ll dry eventually. This training run was one of the hardest things, both physically and mentally, I have ever done.

I dragged my cranky, but exercised, self back to the hotel where everyone was eating/drinking. I couldn’t get in the pool fast enough. My crankiness quickly dissipated. I was so ready to relax. Day 1 of running in Costa Rica DONE! It can only get better/easier, right??

I had my first real Costa Rican meal, and I was exposed to “Tipico.” Typical (tipico) Costa Rican food is rice and beans with any meat you’d like. I chose fish. It tasted delicious and hit the spot! I washed it down with tons of water, and an Imperial.

We all hung out at the hotel/pool bar for a while and talked about our evening/dinner plans. The rain had started again, and apparently everything was closed because of the storm/closed roads. We talked about just having dinner at the hotel, but then discovered a restaurant in town that was open: “Las Piedras. It’s the $hit.” Yup, this place was called, “It’s the $hit.”

We all put on our rain gear and walked the short distance to the restaurant, over a bridge that was almost completely washed out. So…we’re walking along and I look up and someone in our group (we’ll call him FinANCE), was standing in a ditch. He had fallen in a ditch! There was a ditch right in front of the restaurant and apparently he didn’t see it and fell right into it! He was lucky the ditch was filled with water, but not so lucky because he lost his flip-flop. After I saw he was okay, I found it hilarious he didn’t see the ditch and fell in it! We would all give him $hit for the rest of the trip. πŸ™‚

We all sat at a giant table at the back and had fun and got loud and obnoxious. Apparently you can bring your own liquor into restaurants, so at one point a couple of people made a run to the store and came back with liquor, beer and champagne, which just made us more obnoxious. We were having fun. It was our first night together in Costa Rica!

It was FINALLY time to head home to bed, and thus ends the LONGEST DAY EVER!

 

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Coolest Birthday weekend…ever

And…I am officially another year older. And, it was probably the coolest birthday ever.

S and I went to Boise for my birthday weekend, which also was Labor Day weekend, which also was the start of college football. S went to Boise state, played football for Boise State,Β and still had a lot of friends in Boise, so we decided to spend the weekend there. It was amazing in every way. It’s crazy to think S and I have only been dating for 5 weeks! It feels like we’ve known each other forever!

We left Seattle EARLY Friday morning, and landed to cloudless skies in Boise before 10AM (1 hour later there). Cab to our hotel in DT Boise where we freshened up. We then walked a few blocks to meet one of his best guy friends for lunch. That started our pre-birthday pub crawl. We walked to another place to meet a couple more of his friends, and then we went to campus and S showed me the infamous blue field. We walked on it, took some pictures, and then he showed me around campus. We wandered around a bit more, went to a couple more bars/restaurants, met some more of his friends, and then went back to the hotel to get ready for the surprise evening. I was told, “Wear your bikini.” I asked, “What else do I need?” “Your headlamp.” “Anything else?” “Nope.” (He packed everything else). We drove for about 45 minutes, and then got “there.” It was dark. We hiked up a bit, and then…Hot Springs!! I had NEVER been to hot springs, and S knew this. It was so awesome. The temperature of the pool was perfect, and we played in there for a while, stared up at the star-filled sky…it was absolutely beautiful! My head almost got smacked by a couple of bats, too. πŸ™‚

Saturday morning…my birthday, we woke up very early to go climbing!! I wasn’t a fan of waking up early, but when climbing is involved, I am 100% down. We drove a short distance to Black Cliffs and did a couple of climbs before it got too hot. We went with S’s friend who leads, and at one point, he said, “Want to do your first lead for your birthday?” At first I said no, but when he said, “It’s your birthday,” I agreed, and I am so glad I did. I did a 5.7, and it was really, really fun! There was one spot where I was a little freaked out, but I did it, and I finished, and I survived!! SO excited to do it again!

After climbing for a couple of hours, we went to lunch, and then off to the next fun activity: frisbee (disc) golf. It was so much fun!! It’s played on a mini golf course with a frisbee. The “hole” is a metal bucket. Par is 3 on all the holes. At first, I was horrible. I seriously do not know how to throw a frisbee. But, by the end, I was beating the guys. πŸ™‚ After frisbee golf, we were dropped off at another friend’s house where we would stay the night. There was a block party going on for the Boise State game, and I met a ton more of S’s friends. It was hard to keep everyone’s names straight!! Boise won, and everyone was happy. Toward the end of the game, S came walking out with a cupcake and a lit candle in it and everyone sang Happy Birthday. It was so great. πŸ™‚

Sunday…we slept in!! Our original plan was to get up early, drive into the mountains, hike and camp, but we were exhausted, so we decided against that plan. Instead, we slept in, went out for brunch, and then floated the Boise River. So much fun. There are actual mini-waterfalls to go over, so it’s much different from floating in Washington. After we floated the river, we showered, went out for dinner, went and played pool, and made it a semi-early night…we were pretty tired.

Monday…slept in again. πŸ™‚ Went into DT Boise for brunch, and then went mountain biking. Ooh, boy, that was hard. It was about 90 degrees out and I had NEVER been. When we got to a steep incline, which seemed to go on forever, the boys were coaching me on what to do, and right before we went, S said, “And, I know how competitive you are, so I am just going to tell you…NO ONE has EVER made it all the way up without stopping their first time.” And that was all I needed to do everything I could to make it up without stopping. And…I did. I only shifted gears once, and I didn’t stop at all. I felt like I was going to die, but there was no way in hell I was going to stop. Probably one of the hardest things I had ever done. And, going down hill was not much easier. I was completely out of control and thought for sure, more than once, I was going to fly over my handle bars. I rode in ruts, over drop offs, on sand, but not ONCE did I fall!!! I made it the entire way!! YAY!

After mountain biking we went out for celebratory beers and some lunch in this super cool open air bar: Parilla. We went there on Friday, too. I think all the bars in the South Bay should follow suit, and even Seattle should have some.

Then, we went back to shower quickly before going to the airport. 😦 It was truly an amazing weekend. It was a perfect blend of awesome fun activities, exercise, football, outside time, good food, drinks, cool people, and a little bit of downtime. S was amazing in every way, and he made this weekend super special. I am all smiles thinking about it…and him. πŸ™‚

Now, back to reality, and back to training!! Today I start my 12 week training program for the Seattle Half marathon Thanksgiving weekend. I am excited to get back on a schedule and be more disciplined. This past weekend, and summer have been incredible, and I did everything I wanted to do, now it’s time to get my focus back and achieve some more goals! Top 10 in my age group for the Seattle half…BRING IT!!

 

Funnest day EVER (or, at least in a while)

And…just another great weekend. πŸ™‚ We had amazing weather Saturday, and although Sunday started off a little wet, it turned out to be a gorgeous day.

I went to yoga Friday even though it was a beautiful summer evening. I needed yoga. And it felt incredible. Very hot and sweaty. πŸ™‚

Saturday, I went for a run down at the beach, and then went to cheer on my old Sauceball friends on championship day. It was so much fun!!

Sunday was the best day I have had in a while. I met a new friend and we walked through the Fremont market, got snow cones, sat on a covered patio and talked, then went to Revel in Fremont, which is my new favorite restaurant. The kitchen is open to the dining room, and there is a big patio out back. Super cool spot…REALLY super cool. πŸ™‚

After Revel, we went to Queen Anne to La Luna where you can make your own S’mores. The outside tables all have their own fires on them where you toast the marshmallows. Another SUPER cool spot.

Both of us didn’t want the day to end. We had an amazing time together and can’t wait to do it again. πŸ™‚